Mauritius is well known for its “Microsoft Windows screensaver” sunsets, but the island is more than picture perfect beaches. Having spent a week on the island this summer, here are 8 characteristics that surprised me:
1. There Are No Seagulls
I know…this seems like a lie, but I saw no “classic” seagulls while in Mauritius. Each day I’d look up when I’d assume a seagull was above only to see a giant bat! Quite frankly, I find this awesome!
But it also made me realise that there was a distinct lack of seagulls for an island. The only white birds to be seen were the tropicbirds but, for some reason, there simply aren’t any seagulls in Mauritius. 🤷
2. Many Houses Are Incomplete – On Purpose
While in transit between various hotels and activities, I came to notice that it was easy to look into the homes lining the streets. Dogs walking up charcoal speckled stairwells into windowless rooms – often with bright laundry hanging across the “lounge”. Why were so many homes incomplete?
Upon enquiring about this, I came to learn that only homes that are completed are required to pay tax. By keeping a home incomplete, residents are able to avoid paying taxes. And with weather as warm as Mauritius, it’s easy to live without doors, roofs and windows!
3. Everyone Speaks French
Now this may not seem like a big deal, but most countries adapt their colonialist’s language. For example, Afrikaans is derived from Dutch but is no longer Dutch. In Mauritius, this doesn’t seem to be the case with almost everyone speaking French. (English is not a given in all situations so keep this in mind.)
4. Not All Fruits Are Made Equal
Three surprising fruit experiences:
- The bananas are really small! Food modification is popular around the world, but it was surprising to see such small bananas considering they are grown in Mauritius.
- There are yellow granadillas in Mauritius! What’s a granadilla? A passion fruit! This was another strange discovery – granadilla is apparently only well known in South Africa. The rest of the world calls them passion fruits (we do too, but also granadillas!).
- Not all coconuts are made equally. Some can be eaten or the water drunk, others not. We had pina coladas in a coconut on the private beach in the Four Seasons and it was DIVINE! But don’t expect, if you buy a coconut off the streets, to necessarily have the same experience.
5. There Aren’t Any Beggars
This may be normal for residents of Europe, but in African it’s common place to have many homeless people living on the streets asking for assistance.
For some reason I noticed that although the residents of Mauritius lived in half complete houses, fished for their food or grew their own vegetables, I didn’t see anyone begging or living in the streets.
People may be seen as “poor”, but locals live a beautifully, relaxed island lifestyle (often with not much). Beggars are not common place on the small island.
6. They Make Litchi Wine
How unusual? We experienced this at the Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort where they served Takamaka litchi wine. It tastes like a mature rosé – sweet, but not sickly.
7. Dog City
Mauritius is home to dozens of stray dogs. Generally they hang around the towns, scratching their necks and sleeping on the beach. I saw far fewer cats.
JUST as I mentioned this to hotel concierge, a cat came past. Apparently there are stray cats on the island, but they tend to be much smaller than in other countries.
8. The Beef is Rare and Unusual Tasting
Before I visited Mauritius I was warned that the McDonald’s isn’t delicious because many of the residents of the island are Hindu, therefore, beef is not a part of their daily diet.
On this trip, I ate some beef, but often found it to taste a bit unusual – quite goat like. So if you’re in Mauritius and a bit fussy about your meat, possibly opt in for the pork, chicken or seafood option.
I hope you keep these quirks in mind for when you next visit the beautiful and dynamic island.
Thank you to Mauritian Tourism who had myself and 29 other content creators from around the globe on their iAmbassador #MyMauritius media trip. It was an absolute pleasure to visit paradise.